How hard is it for you today?

November 30, 2023 in Israel, Rabbi Greg Harris

By Rabbi Greg Harris. 

The window looks out on the town hall, in front of which a Nazi banner hangs. The menorah belonged to Rabbi Akiva Posner, the rabbi of Kiel. 1931

The window looks out on the town hall, in front of which a Nazi banner hangs. The menorah belonged to Rabbi Akiva Posner, the rabbi of Kiel. 1931

I am emotionally exhausted. Since October 7, I have been glued to news reports, imagining the unimaginable experience of being held hostage in a Hamas terror tunnel, and spiraling about the discoveries of released hostages that their family and homes were destroyed. How does one process these horrors?

Simultaneously, I have pushed myself to carve out space in my heart that war is universally bad even when it is necessary. Innocent people die in war… and Hamas designed their strategy to intentionally cause maximum death to Palestinians. Hamas is a horror for Israel and a cruel manipulation of the Palestinian people.

I am depleted by the TikTok opinions, press reports, and inaccurate assertions about Israel, privilege, and “colonialism.” Rabbi Megdal and I have spoken about many aspects of this and Hazzan Fradkin is in Israel right now as I write this post. To connect with our sermons and resources, click here for our Israel resource page or on Facebook. Feel free to share with others.

At moments, it feels like Sisyphus’ task.

I have stopped asking people, “How are you doing?” and instead, “How hard is it for you today?” So many of us are not doing well.

We are almost 60 days into this war against Hamas. We have to make sure we are taking care of ourselves too.

Here are three ways I am trying to take care of myself:

  • Limit my news and social media scrolling. A term has emerged around this is “doom scrolling.” As we know, the algorithms see what we click on and feed us more of the similar material – more horrors, lies, and antisemitism. (I am trying to fool the algorithms by searching for pandas playing in the snow.)
  • Focus on Jewish pride! I am proud of being Jewish and part of Am Yisrael, the Jewish People. Next Thursday night (Dec 7) begins Chanukah. There is a beautiful custom of placing our chanukiyot in the front windows of our house. This ancient practice is to show the community our pride in being Jewish. This is the perfect year to take on this practice. Let’s bring light into the darkness and share our Jewish pride.
  • Come together in community. I have found tremendous comfort and resilience in our community. From services on Shabbat or weekdays to mahjong, study groups, Latkes & Vodka this Saturday night or Jews & Brews next Wednesday night. Click here to see many ways not to be alone.

As I give myself permission to feel the emotional waves of this war, I am also inspired by each of you. You have shared with me your care for Israel, the desire to learn more, and a beautiful human compassion which we must never loose. Hamas has designed this war to undermine our core value of Am Yisrael… even at the expense of their own people.

Let’s get coffee and talk about the struggles you may be having. I have tried to share some of my own but at my core, I am proud to be Jewish and proud to support Israel as it is under attack.